R.I. lawmakers blast Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain: Providence (RI) Business News, 7/20/05

What would you do if the government knocked on your door and said that you must by law sell your home to make way for a shopping mall? This question is one that state lawmakers would rather Rhode Islanders never have to face.

The Rhode Island Senate passed a resolution earlier this month to urge Congress and other state legislatures to restore personal property rights following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that government agencies can seize individuals’ property for purposes of improving its tax base.

“The American Dream has been described as life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, with the basis of that dream (being) a citizen’s common law rights to life, liberty and property,” state Sen. James C. Sheehan, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Narragansett and North Kingstown, said in a prepared statement. “Sadly, the right to property ownership has been eroded by this U.S. Supreme Court decision.”

In the matter of Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court in June ruled that government authorities could use their rights of eminent domain to seize personal property to make way for private development if they prove that it could benefit its tax base and economy. It was a perceived setback for personal property rights, greatly extending governments’ powers to take private property under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Providence Business News: www.pbn.com